Let’s see. What do you do for your 20th anniversary? China is the traditional gift. So, naturally, Lee Crumpton chose 28 of his closest bands and musician friends to come party with him in Mebane NC for Leeway’s Homegrown Music Network 20th Anniversary October 1-3.
There are many great aspects to this festival. The depth and breadth of the music presented is paramount, of course. So too is the location, a beautiful wooded site of rolling hills that hosted The Big WHAT? in June, thrown by Big Something. The two side-by-side stages mean that everything is in one place, either a 50-foot walk from one rail to the next or a slight shift in the angle of your chair, depending upon your preferences.
And the schedule is manageable. It’s fun going to a festival, sometimes, where there are 80 bands, and you spend most of your time walking from place to place, figuring out whom you are going to miss while seeing somebody else. But this Leeway event doesn’t tax your mental or physical faculties in that way. It was so enjoyable at The Big WHAT? not missing a single note, assuming that was your goal.
Six performances Thursday and eleven each Friday and Saturday, and morning yoga with Alicia as well. The real joy is in the 28 musical selections Lee made in putting this festival together with his outstanding crew. Let’s take a look!
Music starts at 4 Thursday, so either call in sick or duck out after lunch or something. Nick and the Babes with JoJo have the honor of kicking off this great event in Americana rock style. Music alternates between the two stages, so there is no down time. Musical heaven. The Royal Noise gets the second slot, followed by Urban Soil. This Raleigh band might claim to be folky and Americana, but they flat-out rocked at The Big WHAT?
Greensboro’s Imperial Blend threw down a superb jamtronic set at The Big WHAT? You don’t want to miss either of these fine NC representatives. Then it is time for “fun-lovin’, foot-stompin’ tunes” from The Recipe out of WVA. Fat Cheek Kat is a rocking, funking sextet, another Big What? delight. And the Rempke Mountain Boys have the honor of putting you to bed with their fine jammy bluegrass, straight to you from Cincinnati.
Music starts at brunch time (11 AM) with the rock, soul and blues of Rebekah Todd & the Odyssey from Wilmington, followed by the David Dixon Trio. The Floorboards (Roanoke) deliver roots rock and alt country, with Asheville’s The Get Right Band next up smoking their funk/rock/reggae blend.
The Hip Abduction travels from St. Petersburg to get you bouncing with their Afrobeat, reggae/ska and Caribbean sensibilities. Dangermuffin from SC brings their rollicking roots rock with amazing depth. You’re thinking about dinner, but Barefoot Manner is on stage. No way to escape their rocking newgrass soul. And now you’re stuck, because Asheville’s The Broadcast follows that up with more soulful rock and roll.
The night’s headliners are Big Something, the incredible sextet from Burlington who can do anything. Their three performances at The Big WHAT? were amazing, including the Steve Miller set and the four-hour Saturday night blow-out. They will play two sets.
Roots of Creation bring their New Hampshire “reggae rock dubtronica hybrid” to NC for your consideration, and Electric Soul Pandemic out of Greensboro mixes funk, soul and ska to close out the evening. One awesome day to go!
Sol Roots opens the jam-packed Saturday with rock, blues and funk from VA, with Option 22 up next: eclectic roots rock, world funk and more. Next up should be a true festival highlight: Moses Guest from Houston. This superb band does not travel much, so this is an honest-to-goodness treat and honor. They play jam, jazz, funk and soul with a Texas perspective.
The Max Allen Band (Indianapolis) are rockers, and NC favorites Big Daddy Love take the stage next to deliver real Appalachian rock. And the perfect follow-up is Chicago’s
Cornmeal, great jamgrass proponents. Purple Schoolbus is significant not only for their “Southern-fried San Francisco” music but also because they were in on the first Leeway festival.
An All-Star jam is scheduled next. Given the wealth of talent you have just witnessed, this should be superb. And then you head to the climax of the evening with three great perfomances. Keller Williams is first, the king of the loopers. There is no way to predict how a Keller performance might manifest itself, so just wait and be delighted. Keller was also part of that first festival.
Moon Boot Lover, meaning Peter Prince, has the penultimate slot. MBL has also been involved with Leeway since the beginning. Finally, Lotus, the magnificent jamtronic rockers, will put an exclamation point on the festivities with their set. Head-bobbing and dancing all around.
This is a truly fitting way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Homegrown Music Network, an organization that always strives to bring you the best in the jam world in all its varieties. Be sure to than Lee Crumpton and all of his hard-working friends for their dedication to our music scene.
Just don’t bring china.